College Basketball Betting

Bet on College Basketball Odds at Bovada


2019-20 NCAA Basketball Betting Preview

At this time last year, the NCAA basketball betting universe was focused on one man: Zion Williamson. His Duke Blue Devils were the clear favorites to win the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, with Williamson well on his way to earning Player of the Year honors from just about everyone. Things didn’t work out for Williamson and Duke, of course, and now that he’s joined teammates RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish in the NBA, this year’s odds to win the NCAA championship are tight.

And yet the Blue Devils are still the team to beat. They might be one of an incredible five co-favorites tied for first on the March Madness odds board at Bovada Sportsbook as we head to press, but Duke have performed at a higher level than any of the other teams in the hunt. It’s an impressive list of teams, too. Here are the five leading favorites, followed by three second-tier candidates and three of the longer shots worth keeping a close eye on heading into the winter semester.


2019 NCAA Basketball Favorites

1. Duke Blue Devils (+1000)

Although Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils (13-1 SU, 9-5 ATS) are the best team in the country, at least on paper, their new one-and-done trio of Cassius Stanley, Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt still leaves them a bit short of where they were last year with Williamson and Co.


2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1000)

The Bulldogs (16-1 SU, 8-9 ATS) have made the Sweet Sixteen in each of the past five years under head coach Mark Few. Can they finally overcome the college basketball betting odds and win their first championship?


3. Kansas Jayhawks (+1000)

They’ve already lost to both Duke and Villanova, but the Jayhawks (11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS) are ready for Big 12 play and beyond after Bill Self took them through one of the toughest non-con schedules in Division I.


4. Louisville Cardinals (+1000)

Head coach Chris Mack and the Cardinals (11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS) appear less ready for what awaits them in the ACC, dropping back-to-back games to Kentucky and Florida State. They’ll visit Duke on Saturday, January 18 (6 PM ET, ESPN).


5. Ohio State Buckeyes (+1000)

The Buckeyes (11-3 SU, 10-4 ATS) are also coming off losses to West Virginia and Wisconsin, both as home favorites, but Chris Holtmann has assembled a team that rivals what Thad Matta was able to create when he was running the show.


2019 NCAA Basketball Contenders


1. Maryland Terrapins (+1500)

Even if they’ve slipped from No. 3 to No. 15 in the polls, the Terps (12-2 SU, 6-8 ATS) are in very good shape under ninth-year head coach Mark Turgeon. However, their March Madness betting odds are probably too short compared to the next team on our list.


2. Michigan State Spartans (+1700)

Don’t be surprised if Tom Izzo and the Spartans (12-3 SU, 7-8 ATS) have leapfrogged Maryland by the time you read this. The preseason favorites have won seven straight games at 5-2 ATS since their loss to Duke on December 3.


3. Arizona Wildcats (+2200)

The Wildcats (11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS) barely cracked the Top 25 last week, but coach Sean Miller has come back with a vengeance after last year’s rebuild. Freshman forward Zeke Nnaji is threatening to “Zion” his teammate, guard Nico Mannion, who was their top-rated recruit this year – as Barrett was for Duke.


2019 NCAA Basketball Underdogs


1. Baylor Bears (+3000)

While their football program has stolen most of the headlines in recent years – both good and bad – the Bears (11-1 SU, 7-5 ATS) have enjoyed a basketball renaissance since Scott Drew took over in 2003.


2. Dayton Flyers (+4000)

A mid-major team will eventually win March Madness for the first time since UNLV pulled it off in 1990. If it isn’t Gonzaga, it could be the Flyers (13-2 SU, 8-7 ATS), who sit atop the Atlantic 10 in Year Three of Anthony Grant’s coaching tenure.


3. Butler Bulldogs (+5000)

Don’t look now, but LaVall Jordan’s Bulldogs (14-1 SU, 11-4 ATS) are even better than the teams that Brad Stevens – now with the Boston Celtics – took to consecutive National Championship games in 2010-11. Aggressive defense and a witheringly slow tempo on offense combine to make Butler arguably the best value you’ll find in college hoops.



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How to Bet on College Basketball

If you’re wondering what all these numbers mean, no problem – NCAA basketball betting is both easy and a lot of fun, once you know how the odds work. Here are the different types of NCAAB lines you’ll find at Bovada Sportsbook:


NCAA Basketball Spread Betting

Most sports fans have heard of the point spread; instead of winning straight-up, the favored team has to win their game by at least a pre-determined number of points in order to “cover the spread” and pay out their supporters. On the flip side, the underdog can lose by up to that number and still cover. If the favorite wins by exactly the posted spread, it’s a “push,” and bettors get their money back.

Here’s what the spread looked like at Bovada for the incredible 2016 National Championship Game between Villanova and North Carolina:

Villanova +3 (-110)
North Carolina -3 (-110)

The Tar Heels were listed at the bottom here, being the designated home team at NRG Stadium in Houston. They were also favored by three points, as you can tell by the negative sign next to their spread; that means they needed to beat Villanova by at least four points to cover. The Wildcats, with the positive sign, were 3-point underdogs, and would have covered even if they had lost by two points.

The numbers you see in parentheses above refer to the juice, which is displayed using American odds at Bovada. The juice is –110 for most basketball games, meaning you bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10, or any multiple thereof).

Keep in mind that the sportsbook has the option of moving the spread (including the juice) at any time after the NCAAB odds first hit the board, up until just before tip-off. This is usually done to encourage equal action on both teams. The odds you get when you make your pick are the odds used to determine whether you get paid, and how much; in this case, Villanova won 77-74 on a Kris Jenkins buzzer-beating three to seal the victory for Wildcat supporters.


NCAA Basketball Moneyline Betting

Before there was a point spread, people simply bet on which team would win outright. Many basketball fans still do. Here’s the moneyline for that Villanova-North Carolina game:

Villanova +125
North Carolina -145

By default, Bovada uses the American odds format for moneylines as well as spreads, although you can toggle to fractional odds or decimal odds at your leisure. Either way, North Carolina would have paid out $100 for every $145 wagered with a win; instead, it was Villanova supporters cashing in $125 for every $100 bet.


NCAA Basketball Total Betting

Instead of picking a side, you can also bet on whether the two teams will combine to score Over or Under a pre-determined number of points. This is what the total looks like on Bovada’s NCAAB odds board:

Villanova O 151 (–110)
North Carolina U 151 (–110)

As you can see, the total looks a lot like the point spread; the line (including vigorish) for the Over is listed at the top, and the Under on the bottom. And wouldn’t you know it, that Jenkins 3-pointer turned the 2016 National Championship Game into a push – all monies returned.


NCAA Basketball Buying Points

If you want to hedge your spread or total bet, you can “buy” an extra half-point, point or 1.5 points to make it easier for your pick to come through. Each half-point will cost you 10 “cents” in juice, meaning the line moves from –110 to –120, –130, and then –140. It would have been nice to have Under 151.5 (–120) or Over 150.5 (–120) for that Wildcats-Tar Heels game.


NCAA Basketball Futures Betting

Futures bets ask you to put your money down on an event that won’t finish until sometime in the future – like who will win March Madness. You’ll find odds listed for each title contender (and several other teams) on the college basketball futures page at Bovada.


NCAA Basketball Prop Betting

This is one of the most entertaining ways to bet on sports. Proposition bets (aka props) ask you to bet on something besides the actual outcome of a game, like which team will score first, or how many games (Over or Under) a given team will win during the season.


NCAAB Parlay Betting

If you bet on college hoops a lot, you can increase your potential payout by putting all of your “straight” bets (spreads, moneylines and totals) in a single parlay. You can put anywhere between two and 12 lines (aka “teams” for this purpose) in a parlay; if all of your picks come true, the payouts are multiplied instead of added together, but if a single pick goes wrong, the whole parlay loses.


NCAAB Teaser Betting

A teaser is a special parlay where each of the lines (spread and totals only) has been moved by 4, 4.5, 5, or 6 points, making it easier for you to cash in – although your payout will be lower in return. Your teaser can only have up to 10 teams instead of 12; the fewer points you tease by, the more money you can win.


NCAAB Live Betting

This might be the most fun way to bet on sports. All of the straight bets you see above are available for live betting as the game unrolls; the odds are adjusted in real time as the matchup progresses. You can also bet on things like whether the next made shot will be worth one, two or three points. Tap or click the LIVE button to see which games are running at Bovada Sportsbook.


NCAAB Betting Tips

Now that you know how the college basketball odds work, it’s important to keep a few things in mind before making your picks. Try not to bet large portions of your bankroll on any one game; split your roll into smaller units (100 is a good starting point) and bet one unit per game, or maybe a little more if you think you’ve got a really good edge. Of course, you should never bet money that you can’t afford to lose – remember, edges are very small in sports betting, so don’t sweat any one pick if it doesn’t come through. Keep it fun, enjoy yourself, and keep checking in at Bovada for the latest college basketball odds and analysis.



*Odds as of December 17, 2019


Bet on College Basketball Odds at Bovada